Tuesday, 9 June 2015


I did a morning's work today on my new show, which has the working title, Em. I like my one-word titles - and am going for the record of the shortest ever musical title. I'm reliably informed by people on the internet that there are no one letter musical titles (although I'd happily be proved wrong by anyone reading this.) The jury is out as to whether we can include Jason Robert Brown's 13 as a two-letter title. I guess there's also Nine, but I've never seen that written in numerical form.

A title, I believe, should be as unpretentious as possible, and, at the same time, say as much about the show as it can. The story I'm telling is about a girl called Emily, whom everyone calls Em, so the title feels appropriate enough.

I had to go into town to visit the Apple Store in the afternoon. My computer is faltering. There's something wrong with the screen and customer services hadn't provided me with the greatest number of options to remedy the situation speedily. Sometimes I feel that Apple are too busy feeling you should be grateful for choosing them to be that fussed when something goes wrong. It took me the longest time to find a contact number. It obviously didn't help that I was searching for Mac makeup by mistake!

When I arrived in town, Nathan informed me that "backing up" my computer was a process which involved something called Time Machine, rather than the simple act of saving files individually onto my LaCie drive which I'd hitherto been doing. So I sat, first in Stock Pot over lunch, and then in Starbucks, backing up 241GB of previously un-backed up material. It took two hours. I felt like a little old man whom the world had passed by, and was particularly embarrassed to have to walk down the street holding the computer open everywhere I went.

The highlight of the day was sitting on the platform at Highgate station and one of the lovely staff members there making a point of coming up to congratulate me for being on BBC Breakfast on Sunday. "I don't want to embarrass you" he said, "but I did want to say well done for the award... I said to my fiend, "I know that person..."

I called in on Jeremy in the late afternoon to sign a copy of Brass, and discover that we've already sold approaching 200 copies of the CD, which I consider to be very good news.

I went from Pimlico to the Oxford Circus at 7.30pm. It turns out that getting your computer fixed by Mac involves a series of lotteries. When I turned up at the store this evening one of the pretty people who waft around in T-shirts informed me that I would need to join a lengthy queue, the purpose of which was to discover whether I'd be seen today or have to come back to queue another day. I pointed out that it seemed a bit "Russia c. 1982" to have to queue for such a nebulous purpose. He had a walkie-talkie: perhaps he could establish whether or not someone was likely to be served before they stood in such a long queue. "Oh, they don't tell us anything" he said, "would you like to talk to a manager?" I nodded and he trotted off. Whilst he was gone, lots of the other pretty people in T-shirts came over and asked me if I was okay, which I thought was a bit of an inflammatory question to be asked by someone powerless to do anything but waft. Ten minutes later the original wafter returned and said his manager would be over in "like ten minutes." Having spent an hour on the phone to Apple in the early afternoon and then more time speaking to several of their "approved suppliers" none of which could help, I'd officially run out of patience, so took my phone out, started filming and asked the pretty boy to repeat what he'd just said. The camera coming out was like a red rag to a bull and he immediately scuttled off to tell what turned out to be an off-duty manager that a disgruntled customer was doing the unthinkable and filming inside an Apple Temple!

The off-duty manager was really heavy-handed and threatening, although before laying into me he did make it clear that he was off duty, which I took to mean I needed to feel incredibly grateful to him for telling me off in his spare time. He told me, very aggressively, that if I didn't delete the film I'd just made, he was well within his rights, by Apple law, to refuse to cooperate with me. I asked him to show me evidence that filming was illegal in the store. He told me he didn't need to. It was horribly unpleasant, but it did the trick, because a manager, who DID understand customer service was dispatched immediately to talk to me. He kept things pleasant and chatty and, more crucially, listened to me.
I made a point that the distribution of staff in the store seemed all wrong. There aren't enough workers there to meet the demand of customers who need their computers and phones repaired and way too many pretty people in T-shirts with no discernible skills, or more accurately, no discernible ability to help. "There's staff members here who just seem to stand there being" I said. He quite rightly immediately tried to justify their presence. I pointed over the balcony at a group of five staff members in a circle doing nothing but chatting to one another. He took my point, got very embarrassed and immediately dispatched someone else to tell them off.

So the gist of my chat with the nicer manager was that booking an appointment with a Mac engineer is a lottery which can't happen for at least six days. My only option for a fast turnaround is to come back into the shop at 10am tomorrow and hope that not too many customers are in the store to take advantage of a "walk-up" appointment system. They won't stay the world's number one computer provider for long with repairs procedures which are based on lotteries of this nature!

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